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Tea Environments and Plantation Culture
  • Arnab Dey, State University of New York, Binghamton

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    Tea Environments and Plantation Culture
    • Online ISBN: 9781108687034
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Book description

Arnab Dey examines the intersecting role of law, ecology, and agronomy in shaping the history of tea and its plantations in British east India. He suggests that looking afresh at the legal, environmental, and agroeconomic aspects of tea production illuminates covert, expedient, and often illegal administrative and commercial dealings that had an immediate and long-term human and environmental impact on the region. Critiquing this imperial commodity's advertised mandate of agrarian modernization in colonial India, Dey points to numerous tea pests, disease ecologies, felled forests, harsh working conditions, wage manipulation, and political resistance as examples of tea's unseemly legacy in the subcontinent. Dey draws together the plant and the plantation in highlighting the ironies of the tea economy and its consequences for the agrarian history of eastern India.


‘This book breaks new ground by interleaving the human history of tea plantation in colonial Assam with the natural history of the plant and its pathogens. The result is a fresh and original perspective that emphasizes the role of the non-human in the making of modern South Asia.'

Dipesh Chakrabarty - University of Chicago

‘Arnab Dey writes a new kind of history of tea plantations in Assam by focusing on the tea plant, its ecological environments, and their entanglements with science, policy, politics, and labor in British colonial tropics. The materiality of plantation ecology takes center stage here in the imperial drama of agrarian capitalism.'

David Ludden - New York University

‘The plantation is a critical subject in imperial and world history, but only rarely have scholars provided such a thorough and nimble history of the entangled human and environmental complexities and instabilities of a specific plantation culture as Arnab Dey does in his important new book. Tea Environments and Plantation Culture is a masterful agro-ecological history.'

Paul S. Sutter - University of Colorado, Boulder

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